LONDON: At last we again had a Test so filled with drama that we harked back to the days of walrus moustaches, snake buckle belts and trousers with turn-ups, 100 years ago.
Before it began there were English voices claiming that it was the only chance for India to win.
Its weak bowling was a seamer short, neither Rahul Dravid nor Sachin Tendulkar had ever made a century at Lord’s and as for its fielding, well sloppy was too kind a word. England could, it was thought, experiment with young Stuart Broad, even though the quartet of Ashes bowlers had gone missing.
Too early to predict
At worst England might suffer a high-scoring draw. Just wait until we get the visiting side to Trent Bridge and the Oval. Besides, in this wet summer we were sure of a shower or three.
The shower came on Friday morning with the force of a car wash crossed with Victoria Falls.
The rain could be heard hammering on to the covers, wise men stayed indoors and predicted an afternoon at the movies and then, in the blink of an eye, the sun came out, the floods seeped away, two men with a rope took the droplets off the outfield and play restarted in bright sunshine.
England had been 218 for one; but the last nine fell for 80 runs in 27 overs. Weak bowling? Yes of course, but India’s attack did take the precaution of bowling straight. Batsman’s pitch? Not quite. Panic in the England ranks? Of course, begun when Michael Vaughan pulled a face on Thursday evening as umpire Steve Bucknor ordered the batsmen out on to the field in gloom.
He pulled another face as he walked off after giving a catch to the wicketkeeper although by that time there was a circle of bright light in the middle.
There will be pub talk, sophisticated debate and red hot argument for years to come over Kevin Pietersen’s two dismissals in three deliveries. Thank heavens for new technology which means there cannot be any dispute about what happened as Mahendra Singh Dhoni picked up the ball and Pietersen strode off towards the pavilion.
He had gone further than many an old age pensioner walks his dog when he was called back but when he was out again in an identical fashion we knew that, far from reaching 500, England might not touch 350, the minimum target in any Test.
He is not at his best now which may make him a better person. No-one expects a charismatic figure like Petersen to be humble, self-effacing or given to long bouts of modesty but some of his team mates must wish he cast a smaller shadow.
Of all the front and back page England sportsmen of this era David Beckham, Andrew Flintoff, Jose Mourinho, Alex Ferguson he is the only one who lays claim to tiredness.
One day perhaps he will learn that millions wish they were in his shoes, with a pop singer girl friend, a flat in the most glamorous part of London, visits to the Palace in his diary and a fortune from endorsements, 40 days of cricket in the last seven months and lazy days in the Caribbean to recuperate.